Schrenko defense confident

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

Jury selection starts up again the morning of Wednesday, April 26 in the federal trial for Linda Schrenko.

The former Georgia state school superintendent is accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars.

But she was all smiles for most of the day Tuesday.

The former school superintendent is charged with theft, fraud and money laundering.

Prosecutors claim when she headed up Georgia schools, she stole more than $600,000 in federal funds, funneling about half of that to her failed campaign for governor, and more than $9,000 for plastic surgery.

Schrenko's attorney, Pete Theodocion, has maintained Schrenko is innocent.

"We're happy with our case and feel like we're headed in the right direction, and look forward to going to court," he said.

Potential jurors were asked how familiar they were with Schrenko and her two co-defendants, computer executive Stephan Botes and his chief financial officer, Peter Steyn.

Merle Temple of Evans is now a key government witness.

Once Schrenko's close friend and deputy superintendent, Temple pleaded guilty a little more than a year ago.

30 prospective jurors were questioned Tuesday, with another 30 going Wednesday.

No jurors were seated Tuesday, but a full jury will be seated before the end of the week.

The trial begins Monday in federal court in Atlanta.

Here's how we got here:

Schrenko was elected to 2 terms as state school superintendent, beginning in 1994.

She started running for governor in 2001, and in June and July of 2002 wrote more than $600,000 in checks to companies owned by South African Stephan Botes.

Prosecutors say nothing was ever delivered for that money, and that hundreds of thousands of it ended up in her campaign.

In August of 2002, Schrenko lost the Republican primary to Sonny Perdue.

In November of 2003, News 12 aired our special investigation into her spending.

In November of 2004, Schrenko, Temple and Botes were indicted by a federal grand jury.

In January of 2005, Temple pleaded guilty to 3 counts.

Linda Schrenko's trial begins Monday, May 1, and it's expected to last a week or two.

Schrenko Case History
1994: Schrenko elected Georgia School Superintendent
2001: Schrenko runs for Georgia governor's seat
2002: Schrenko gives $600,000 to companies owned by Stephan Botes, loses Republican primary
2003: News 12 investigation airs
2004: Schrenko, Temple, and Botes indicted by federal grand jury
2005:Temple pleads guilty to 3 counts


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